I hope you are keeping well and are adjusting to new lifestyle changes. This probably means many different things to different people. I like to think my new life would have meant sipping champagne (British version of course) on the beach here in sun soaked Newham. It just goes to show that hope over experience is alive and well and living in Newham.

I am very conscious of the fact that I have not been exactly productive in writing reports on our activities recently. This does not mean that there hasn’t been any activity, although live events have been largely missing. Our friends and colleagues have been attending and supporting live events in person although I am restricted to online attendances only.

Paul, David, Jane and fellow patients will be attending Queen Mary University of London Festival of Communities on the 11th and 12th June and I hope to be joining them online if Paul can work his magic. You can find details here and here https://www.qmul.ac.uk/festival/festival-programme-2022/sunday-12-june--queen-mary-mile-end-campus/

Jane has been also been busy supervising and assisting students in addition to planning and organising this years Science Festival which takes place on the 10th June 2022. Please see details here.

Paul Bowers-Isaacson has also done wonders in reworking our website. So much work, he deserves a medal – and a paracetamol. Presumably, if you are reading this, you do not need it but I will put a link here anyway. You may wish to copy and paste it to your friends and acquaintances:


Go on, you know you want to!

They and I have attended online meetings involving many and varied things throughout the Pandemic including organising and running both mixed and online events. Helping medical students with their training, we have also had the pleasure of supporting our colleagues in their events. We are very much in favour of coöperation. You meet such very nice people.

I was going to list the meetings I have noted in my calendar but  I’ve counted 24 and I do not want to bore everyone with a list of dates and titles that in a large part mean nothing unless you were involved. I had originally intended to make a list of last year’s appointments as well but as this is more than twice as long I thought better of it. This year’s list would have been longer but unfortunately I was hors-de-combat for a while and, of course,  I haven’t noted everything done by others.

I did prepare a blog post about my recent hospital experiences but I rambled on so much I nearly filled up my hard drive. Instead, begging your indulgence, I will tell you why I wrote it before giving just a brief summary.

I was fed up with a lot of comments appearing in the press and social media running down our NHS. Some of these criticisms are no doubt justified and improvements could and should be made but I felt it was unfair to blame the nurses and doctors for all what ails the NHS.

Why? I will tell you of my own experience. 

26th Jan 8.45am I had a blood test at GP’s surgery

27thJan  5.45pm Phone call from Doctor saying long drop in blood count – 75 — thinks I need blood transfusion and tests to see where bleed is coming from. She spoke to blood transfusion team and the  A&E team. If I get to Newham General and report to A&E they will sort me out.

28th Jan 9.00am attended A& E  and received first bag of blood

29th Jan received 2nd bag of blood

28th Jan to 2nd Feb  Resident in A&E ward for whole period. No room on regular ward. Obs. and constant blood tests and a couple of scans done until I was released to have further investigations as outpatient because they needed bed.

Did staff have time to make sure patients were OK or needed something? – No!

Were they short on equipment? – Yes!

Did they have time to make patients feel comfortable? – No!

Was it the fault of the staff? A big definite No! The staff were run off their feet and looked physically drained and the reason for this was that at they were so badly understaffed and overworked. 

So what is my opinion? Look at the evidence, I did not feel too great but had no idea I had a serious problem with my blood count. Within two days my blood was tested, very low blood count identified and reviewed by GP who spoke to a couple of teams in the hospital to make arrangements and I received the first of two blood transfusion. Of course it may be said that it would have been even quicker if I had an accident with blood loss and this is true. Here though we are talking about a common, routine blood test at a GP surgery with no overt sign of bleeding. The problem was picked up and dealt with speedily. What more could I want of a system which is free to all. In this instance the NHS was brilliant and we should cherish the system and the men and women who work so hard in difficult circumstances.

Do I have any complaints? Of course I do. I’m British and love having a moan. For instance it has cost me over 150 quid in taxi fares travelling to and fro for hospital appointments and tests. I do console myself with the thought that this would be a drop in the ocean if I had to pay for each test or the insurance to cover them. The NHS is the best system in the world even if it does need a bit of an overhaul with help from the doctors, nurses and staff and all of us, the patients. Just leave out the politicians.

I am sorry to introduce a note of sadness and loss here but I really must mention the passing of Jane Pheby, the wonderful nurse I knew from the William Harvey Clinical Research Centre. She was the most wonderful and warm person you could ever wish to meet and nothing was ever too much trouble for her. She was a bundle of energy who wasn’t happy unless she was doing something for somebody. I will always remember her kindness and help and I feel privileged to have known her. As I am sitting here typing this I can hear her voice telling me to “Get away Ron, I’m just doing my job”. She was so self-effacing and modest  She was my kind of person – a typical East Ender with a heart of gold. She was also a tiger who would defend her patients to the death. Quite a woman!

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